Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Reviews

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg in San Francisco

Falstaff and Die Meistersinger are among the pinnacles if not the pinnacles of nineteenth century opera. Both operas are atypical of the composer and both operas are based on a Shakespeare play.

Le Nozze di Figaro, Manitoba Opera

To borrow from the great Bard himself: “the course of true love never did run smooth.”

Arizona Opera Presents Florencia in el Amazonas

Florencia in el Amazonas was the first Spanish-language opera to be commissioned by major United States opera houses.

Viva la Mamma!: A Fun Evening at POP

Gaetano Donizetti wrote a comedy or dramma giocoso called Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (The Conventions and Inconveniences of the Theater), which is also known by the shorter title, Viva La Mamma!.

LA Opera Norma: A Feast for the Ears

Vincenzo Bellini composed Norma to a libretto that Felice Romani had fashioned after Alexandre Soumet’s French play, Norma, ossia L'infanticidio (Norma, or The Infanticide).

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck at Lyric Opera of Chicago

In order to mount a successful production of Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, first performed in 1925, the dramatic intensity and lyrical beauty of the score must become the focal point for participants.

A Prize-Winning Rediscovery from 1840s Paris (and 1830s Egypt)

Félicien David’s intriguing Le désert, for vocal and orchestral forces plus narrator, was widely performed in its own day, then disappeared from the performing repertory for nearly a century. In recent days,

Florilegium at Wigmore Hall

During this exploration of music from the Austro-German Baroque, Florilegium were joined by the baritone Roderick Williams in a programme of music which placed the music and career of J.S. Bach in the context of three older contemporaries: Franz Tunder (1614-67), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1701) and Heinrich Biber (1644-1704).

Leoncavallo’s Zazà by Opera Rara

Charismatic charm, vivacious insouciance, fervent passion, dejected self-pity, blazing anger and stoic selflessness: Zazà — a chanteuse raised from the backstreets to the bright lights — is a walking compendium of emotions.

L'ospedale - an anonymous opera rediscovered

‘Stay away from doctors; they are bad for your health.’ This seems to be the central message of L’Ospedale - a one-hour opera by an unknown seventeenth-century composer, with a libretto by Antonio Abati which presents a satirical critique of the medical profession of the day and those who had the misfortune to need curative treatment for their physical and mental ills.

Šimon Voseček : Biedermann and the Arsonists

‘In these times of heightened security … we are listening, watching …’

René Pape, Joseph Calleja, Kristine Opolais, Boito Mefistofele, Munich

Arrigo Boito Mefistofele was broadcast livestream from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich last night. What a spectacle !

Calixto Bieito’s The Force of Destiny

The monochrome palette of Picasso’s Guernica and the mural’s anti-war images of suffering dominate Calixto Bieito’s new production of Verdi’s The Force of Destiny for English National Opera.

Morgen und Abend — World Premiere, Royal Opera House

The world premiere of Morgen und Abend by Georg Friedrich Haas at the Royal Opera House, London — so conceptually unique and so unusual that its originality will confound many.

Company XIV Combines Classic and Chic in an Exquisite Cinderella

Company XIV’s production of Cinderella is New York City theater at its finest. With a nod to the court of Louis the XIV and the grandiosity of Lully’s opera theater, Company XIV manages to preserve elements of the French Baroque while remaining totally innovative, and never—in fact, not once for the entire two and a half hour show—falls prey to the predictable. Not one detail is left to chance in this finely manicured yet earthily raw production of Cinderella.

Monteverdi by The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

This was a concert where immense satisfaction was derived equally from the quality of musicianship displayed and the coherence and resourcefulness of the programme presented. In 1610, Claudio Monteverdi published his Vespro della Beata Vergine for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

Dialogues des Carmélites Revival at Dutch National Opera

If not timeless, Robert Carsen’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites is highly age-resistant.

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari: Le donne curiose

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari was one of the Italian composers of the post-Puccini generation (which included Licinio Refice, Riccardo Zandonai, Umberto Giordano and Franco Leoni) who struggled to prolong the verismo tradition in the early years of the twentieth century.

Moby-Dick Surfaces in the City of Angels

On Saturday evening October 31, 2015, the Nantucket whaling ship Pequod journeyed to Los Angeles Opera and began its sixth voyage in the attempt to kill the elusive whale called Moby-Dick.



Umberto Giordano: Marcella
11 Oct 2009

Giordano: Marcella

Although this DVD comes on the Naxos label, an earlier CD version of the same performance went under the Dynamic label, specialists in rare repertory.

Umberto Giordano: Marcella

Marcella: Serena Daolio; Giorgio: Danilo Formaggia; Drasco: Pierluigi Dilengite; Clara: Natalizia Carone; Raimonda: Angelica Girardi; Eliana: Mara D'Antini; Lea: Maria Rosa Rondinelli; Vernier: Marcello Rosiello; Barthélemy: Giovanni Coletta; Flament: Graziano De Pace. Slovak Chamber Choir. Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia. Manlio Benzi, conductor. Alessio Pizzech, stage director. Filmed at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy, on 4-6 August 2007 as part of the 33rd Festival of the Valle d'Itria, Italy.

Naxos 2.110263 [DVD]

$9.99  Click to buy

Umberto Giordano’s Marcella certainly qualifies as rare - a one-act opera in three episodes, under 70 minutes in length. This mid-career work came after Giordano’s early successes (notably Andrea Chenier), and according to Paul Campion in his fine booklet essay, it “did not appeal to its early audiences,” and later audiences had next to no opportunity to see it at all. One later performance, given “shortly before the Second World War,” might well have been the one to show the work at its best advantage - the cast featured Magda Olivero in the title role with Tito Schipa as her partner.

The Dynamic/Naxos cast, caught at a 2007 staging at the festival Valle D’Italia, pose no threats to the memories of Olivero and Schipa’s careers. Serena Daolio as Marcella must strike us as an unworldly, even timid woman who finds herself passionately and helplessly in love with Giorgio (Danilo Formaggia). Giordano’s compositional style had not progressed much from his more famous work of previous years. Marcella and Giorgio both require ample, rich voices who can pour out their romantic exultations and trauma tirelessly. Without distinctive voices, the effect becomes tiresome, and neither Daolio nor Formaggia have much character to their instruments. She tightens at the top, and he has a darker timbre prone to weak intonation.

Even singers such as Olivero and Schipa probably couldn’t do much to make this opera a success. The story feels both unoriginal and overextended, even at 66 minutes. The first episode takes place in a lively restaurant, rather too schematically designed to have a choral number and some other character interaction before the opera comes down to its essential two-character core. Marcella runs in, scared by some inappropriate behavior (very vague in nature) from a crowd outside. Giorgio comforts her. What she doesn’t know is that Giorgio (in a plot twist too reminiscent of operetta librettos) is a prince in disguise, out to see the world away from the pressures of the court. Giorgio and Marcella fall in love; he idly dreaming that he can escape his responsibilities indefinitely. But he can’t, and Marcella makes a tearful goodbye, realizing she could never be his consort. Improbable and yet uninteresting, this narrative provides very weak support for Giordano’s overheated style, and his melodic invention never catches fire.

Director Alessio Pizzechi tries to bring the piece to life, including having some ladies of doubtful repute traipse in their undergarments through the restaurant. Michele Riccairini’s sets look best in the wooden simplicity of the country home Giorgio and Marcella repair to in the last two episodes. Manlio Benzi conducts the Orchestra Internazionale d’Italia, producing a warm, excited sound suitable to the score.

If any fan of Giordano’s must have this piece, the DVD has sound as good as the CD, and at least some modest visual appeal. But Marcella the opera is unlikely to have any happier fate that its title character endures.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):